Sugar and Spice Salmon and Sustainable Seafood

Salmon 4

I don’t eat much seafood any more. I know that all those omega-3’s are supposed to be good for your brain, but the conflicting horror stories – of mercury levels and PCB’s, of devastating overfishing and pollutive farming practices, are enough to make me swear off fish forever. The problem is that I actually LIKE fish — I just can’t keep straight the do’s and don’ts of seafood.

Fortunately, there are a few resources I can turn to in times of need. For years, I’ve looked to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program for guidance (though I admit to finding those little cards confusing — I can never remember if the fish has to be trawl caught or net caught). You can look up many different fish on their site to see the environmental and health impacts of eating it. Recently, they’ve made the process even easier by releasing the “Super Green” list — a short (and easy to remember) list of fish that are super healthy and environmentally friendly.

Salmon 1

I’ve also made it easier on myself by shopping for my fish at Whole Foods — they label the country of origin, but also carry several seafood items that are certified by the Marine Stewardship Council, which evaluates individual fisheries and certifies them for sustainable practices. So when I see a fish, like this wild Alaskan salmon, which is both on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Super Green list and certified by the MSC, I know I can eat the seafood without guilt. If you don’t live near a Whole Foods and are having a hard time finding a source for sustainable seafood, check out I Love Blue Sea, an online sustainable seafood market.

Salmon 2

And eat it I will – I actually love Wild Alaskan Salmon — it’s more intense than the farmed stuff, with a vibrant pink color and a stronger flavor. Unlike mild white fishes, the oily salmon can stand up to strong flavors. One of my favorite ways to prepare it is to quickly pass the salmon through a mix of aromatic spices that provide both heat and sweet as a counterpoint to the salmon’s richness, then sear it in a hot pan for a few minutes until it’s just cooked and still nearly raw in the center, with the buttery texture of good salmson that you find in the best salmon sushi or cold smoked salmon. Finish it off with some sweet hot mustard and you’ve got the perfect weeknight meal — easy, quick to prepare, delicious, healthy, and good for the earth.

Sugar and Spice Salmon with Hot Sweet Mustard
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
For the salmon
  • 1 Wild Alaskan Salmon Filet - 8 ounces
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ginger
  • ½ tsp dried mustard
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp cayenne (more cayenne can be added to taste)
For the Sauce
  • ¼ c. Coleman's English mustard
  • 1 T sugar
  1. Remove the skin from the salmon with a sharp knife. Combine the spice mixture until both sides are coated. Heat a heavy skillet, preferably cast iron until it is very hot, and quickly sear the salmon, 2-3 minutes per side. Combine the mustard and sugar to form the sauce, and serve with the salmon
From How to Eat by Nigella Lawson


14 comments to Sugar and Spice Salmon and Sustainable Seafood

  • Christine

    This is definitely going to the top of my ‘to cook’ pile.

  • This looks terrific! I just posted about how we finally found a frozen salmon I can count on. I’ll give this a whirl next time we cook fish!

  • I completely agree…..i seem to avoid fish for fear of what the source it, we have also started eating alot of arctic char, highly sustainable and so similar to wild salmon…..a little cheaper in price and lighter in flavor, but we are lucky to have a local family owned butcher that carries only sustainable fish and have found some local restaurants serving arctic char as well!

  • Gotta try this one…I have some salmon that I caught myself on my last trip to the Oregon coast in the freezer just calling out to me right now.. cook me! cook me!

  • Oh, good timing! I have salmon on our meal plan for tomorrow night and was dreading the thought of another boring baked salmon dish.

  • Sasa

    Oooh, I’m living in Austria and alas, landlocked countries are not known for their good fish – yet I’m an island girl from NZ and Japan and you’re making my mouth water impotently…

  • I totally agree with you about fish. We refuse to eat anything that is not from the US or that is farmed. That basically leaves many fish and shellfish off our list! We shop at Whole Foods, too and wild salmon is one of the fish we will eat. I have a similar recipe that has a bit more sweet to it. I do like it because that way the “fishy” taste is minimized.

  • Those flavors sound delicious with the salmon!

  • Free Health Articles

    I have to admit, that the mercury level stories had freaked me out as well. I realized through research that it is prone to different types of fish. Salmon do have the same issues, but in lesser numbers.

  • Oh thanks so much for all those links on how to check which fish is ok to buy. I feel the same way, usually just staying away from seafood rather than researching it. But that salmon looks like it was a gorgeous piece of fish. Yum!

  • Great post! Thanks for the info.

  • Zo

    Ooo, that salmon does have a super rich red to it. I’ve been having the other dilemma – instead of eating land farmed animals due to their hideous environmental/health impacts, I turned to fish, but it turns out seafood is no better really :( Salmon is soooo tasty though!
    Thanks for blogging about this – if you want to know more, Michael Pollan, Felicity Lawrence and Jonathan Saffran Foer write very informative and engaging books about the impacts of food (JSF specifically about eating animals) on human and environmental health.

  • Thanks for the links. I wish I ate more seafood, but between the price, the mercury and the fact that our oceans are being fished to death, I always feel guilty eating it. Such a shame, too, since fish is so good for you.

    Or at least it would be if the oceans weren’t polluted. :P

  • I love salmon, and I really like the looks of this recipe. It looks really tasty and can’t wait to try it out. Thanks for sharing

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